Trawling through a dusty rusty second hand store is one of my favourite activities. In Adelaide we have a few streets that hold some gems, as most cities do. Knowing where to go and what kinds of things they tend to carry, can really help when you are looking for something particular for your home. Pat Milne has been working in the interiors and design space for a very long time. Her unique store on Adelaide’s Magill Road, Rock N Rustic opened way back in 1996. Before that, she and her partner, David Whyte were both at the wonderful Orange Lane Market at Norwood. This was a favourite haunt for many creatives and people looking for art, handcrafted items, beautiful food and many other market delights. The market no longer exists but Pat and David’s store does!
I have often popped in to look for things for my own decorating. I visited Pat a while ago to get some pictures of what is on offer in this rather magical store, and chat about the history of her work and visits to places as far away as Texas to bring back unique pieces.
She tells me that the Texas Roundtop Fair is a sight to see, with miles and miles of antiques and collectibles. Touted as the largest antiques fair in the United States, the event, which has been around since the 1960s, attracts more than 2,000 vendors who descend upon a 25-mile stretch of Highway 237 from Burton to LaGrange (with Round Top somewhere in the middle) for roughly a week or two every fall and spring. Vendors set up shop along the highway in various venues consisting of clusters of enormous white tents, as well as in barns, dance halls, and general stores.
How did you get started in antiques and collectibles and what do you love about the business?
We started off at the East End market before going to the Orange Lane Market at Norwood. David and I have separate businesses but share the store! David is most interested in tools, scientific instruments, machinery and gadgets including kitchenalia, so this is his field. The furniture and other decorator items are mine.
Before that we both were in fashion.We owned Zu Clothiers in King William Road Hyde Park, designing and making clothes and carrying unusual labels new to Adelaide. We both love tracking down interesting pieces and bringing them back to life. Finding them is great, but then being able to see them go to someone who loves them, is even better. It is nice to see pieces have new life and be used in new ways by people looking to decorate their homes.
Where do you source most of your items?
We source some of our pieces locally from deceased estates. Antique dealers also often refer us to sellers if they find something that they think we might be interested in, but is not really their thing. We go to fairs in Victoria, both to sell and to find more! We are always looking.
More recently we are going as far as the U.S. to one of the many fairs in Texas, mainly because we can find unique pieces that just aren’t available here in Australia. Also it is a fabulous experience travelling the country and meeting interesting characters.
What is a favourite story about a treasure you have found?
No one particular treasure stands out, but we have kept a beautiful blacksmith made iron gate and occasionally some lovely older person will pass on something whilst telling their life history which is rather special. We are always both very excited about our next U.S. trip as we never know what we will discover!
What kinds of things do people come looking for in their decorating projects?
At the moment work benches are very popular. People are using them for things like sitting the television on, a kitchen workbench, or an outdoor table. Trestle tables are also very popular for similar reasons. Of course pigeon holes are always sought after (in fact most storage options are.) Also crates and printers trays!! Laminex and chrome tables are very popular.
Some customers might like all rustic, all retro, all industrial – but generally it is a mix people are looking for. Some may have a newly built home with modern furniture but just like one piece of industrial or rustic furniture as a feature. Restaurants, cafes and nightclubs are also regularly coming in looking for the unique item to make their place stand out. We often spot our stuff in S.A. made films which we have hired out!
**this is an update of a post originally shared in 2014